《TAIPEI TIMES》 First shipment of Pfizer’s vaccines for kids arrives
Workers unload a shipment of children’s doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday. Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
INFORMED CHOICE: Parents should research the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines before deciding which is best to give their children, the minister of health said
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children, containing 777,600 doses, arrived in Taiwan yesterday morning, the Central Epidemic Command Center （CECC） said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung （陳時中）, who heads the center, said the vaccine would be administered to children aged 5 to 11 as their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The doses expire on Sept. 30, he added.
The CECC previously said the shipment was scheduled to arrive on Thursday last week, but the manufacturer abruptly informed the center before the plane took off that the delivery would be re-scheduled due to system errors.
Chen said that the 777,600 doses would be enough for all eligible children whose parents want them to be vaccinated, as fewer than 1.2 million children in the eligible age group are expected to be vaccinated, while some parents might opt to use the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
The shipment is part of a contract the government signed on April 28 to purchase 2.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children and about 1.8 million doses of its vaccine for adults.
The 1.4 million remaining doses for children are to be delivered in future shipments, Chen said.
As the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines each have benefits and drawbacks, the center encourages parents to learn about the vaccines before choosing which to give to their children, he said.
Out of about 115,000 child doses administered of the Moderna vaccine, which are half the adult dose, only two severe adverse reactions have been reported, said Centers for Disease Control （CDC） Deputy Director-General Philip Lo （羅一鈞）, who is deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division.
One of the children experienced leg pain and weakness two days after receiving the vaccine, and another experienced nausea and vomiting about five minutes after their shot was administered, but symptoms in both incidents subsided, he said.
As of Sunday, the nation’s vaccination rate was 85.95 percent for a first dose, 80.82 percent for a second dose and 63 percent for a first booster dose, Chen said.
A shipment of 35,280 courses of molnupiravir, an oral antiviral treatment for treating COVID-19 also arrived yesterday evening.
Lo said that the drug would be allocated for use across the nation as soon as possible, and would be administered to patients at long-term care centers and those who are being fed through nasogastric intubation, which prevents the use of the Paxlovid antiviral treatment.